Phenol is a benzene ring with an -OH (oxygen-hydrogen) bond and is produced with acetone (and in some processes MEK) as a by-product.
Note: Often times, you will hear "phenol" used to casually to refer to any compound that contains benzene ring with an attached -OH group.
Phenol requires careful handling (it can cause nasty chemical burns) and is produced only when there is demand for phenol (ie, if there is no demand for phenol, the acetone and MEK by-products can get tight and price go up).
Key markets to monitor for phenol demand are consumer electronics (BPA) and the housing market (phenolic resins).
Note: BPA is loosing favor as a plastic due to human toxicity issues. BPA consumes about 40% of the global phenol.
Up Stream Materials/Building Blocks:
-Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).
Down Stream Materials Consuming Phenol:
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Pharmaceuticals (such as aspirin )